A powerful earthquake measuring 6.8 hit eastern Turkey on Friday, leaving at least four people dead and causing buildings to collapse.
The quake was felt as far away as Israel, where residents in Petah Tikva, Holon, Yavne and Beersheba reported feeling the temblor. There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage in Israel.
The quake shook the Sivrice district in the eastern province of Elazig at around 8.55 pm (1755 GMT), the Turkish government’s disaster and emergency management agency said.
The US Geological Survey assessed the quake’s magnitude at 6.7, and said it struck at a depth of 10 kilometres (about six miles).
“It was very scary, furniture fell on top of us. We rushed outside,” 47-year-old Melahat Can, who lives in the city of Elazig, told AFP.
“We will spend the coming days in a farmhouse outside the city,” she said.
WATCH: Strong earthquake in eastern Turkey causes several buildings to collapse; no word on casualties pic.twitter.com/v1UGZIhTFN
— BNO News (@BNONews) January 24, 2020
Turkey’s Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said four people had died.
“We are hoping we will not have more casualties,” he was quoted as saying by the official Anadolu news agency.
Everybody is in the street
“Sivrice was shaken very seriously, we have directed our rescue teams to the region,” he told reporters, adding that there were reports of some collapsed buildings in the region.
The tremor was felt in several parts of eastern Turkey including Tunceli, the Turkish broadcaster NTV reported, adding that neighboring cities had mobilized rescue teams for the quake area.
“We have sent four teams to the quake region,” Recep Salci of Turkey’s Search and Rescue Association (AKUT) told AFP. “We have news of collapsed buildings, and preparing more teams in case of need.”
Zekeriya Gunes, 68, a resident of Elazig city, said a building 200 meters down on his street had collapsed but he did not know whether it was inhabited.
“Everybody is in the street, it was very powerful, very scary,” he said.
Turkey lies on major faultlines and is prone to earthquakes.
In 1999, a devastating 7.4 magnitude earthquake hit Izmit in western Turkey, leaving more than 17,000 people dead including about 1,000 in the the country’s largest city Istanbul.
Teams from the Israeli army provided rescue and medical services after that quake.
The last earthquake to be reported in Israel was in June, when a minor temblor measuring around 3.8 on the Richter scale was recorded in the Dead Sea region.
Israel is situated along the Syrian-African rift, a tear in the earth’s crust running the length of the border separating Israel and Jordan, and which is part of the Great Rift Valley, which extends from northern Syria to Mozambique.
The last major earthquake to hit the region was in 1927 — a 6.2-magnitude tremor that killed 500 people and injured 700 more.